On a Tuesday evening, I am waiting for an interview that I know will be full of gems and will surely change a Black woman’s life. But I’m also full of nerves and anxiety. Friends and family members all around are testing positive and it's like Omarion took his hit song, "Touch" to a new level. My anxiety is on 1,000. Then, E! News host Francesca Amiker joins the Zoom call. Full of joy and light, I can’t lie, she brightened my day as soon as she turned on her camera, flashed that bright smile, and greeted me the only way a Southern belle would.
Born and raised in Atlanta, the Vanderbilt University graduate’s journey is simply inspirational. Francesca originally set out to follow in her father’s footsteps by studying political science and law, but something happened after a special person empowered her to lean into communications because of her brilliant way of captivating the class during public speaking. One idea led to another, and she started her first show, Francesca in The City, where she rode around Nashville with a little camcorder, traveling to museums, hotspots like The Bluebird Cafe, and local events to tell the story of the people.
“That’s when I got the bug. This can be me. I enjoy storytelling. I enjoy smiling at the audience and drawing them in and letting them know something that they didn’t know before.” And just like that, she switched her major to communications and garnered a gang of internships. By the time she graduated, the rising media maven completed 12 internships, from Country Music Television to local news in Nashville, all the way to Time Warner Cable in San Diego.
With detours and delays, Francesca is a testament to hard work and trusting divine timing. After nearly five years of including the position of her dreams at E! News on her vision board, she is now living out her wildest dreams. "I am a woman who is standing firm and who she is now. She knows what she wanted back then. She worked her butt off to get to this position literally to get to her dream job in Hollywood at E! News," she shares. "I’m someone who knows who she finally is, and I know what I bring to the table.”
xoNecole: I heard you say you put E! News on your vision board, so I wanted to talk about how you manifested your new role.
Francesca Amiker: It’s very interesting. If you are in an industry, for starters you need to know and have an idea of who else is in that industry who’s dominating. I knew of various entertainment shows but E! News is the brand that has stuck with me for years. Fifteen years ago, I watched Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic for the first time, owning that red carpet, captivating the audience, pulling in these interviews, and really getting people excited about the entertainment industry and doing it so effortlessly smack-dab in the middle of Hollywood. It was something I wanted to do—interviewing the biggest stars in the world and bringing them down to earth. Not talking to Oprah because she’s a billionaire, but talking to her about her humble beginnings. That gets me excited because then that creates an ability for viewers to relate.
When it comes to manifesting E! News, the year was 2011, and [I sent] a woman by the name of Jen Lanvin an email stating, "Hi, my name is Francesca Amiker, and I’m a sophomore at Vanderbilt University. I see that you have an E! News associates internship program, and I would love to be an intern for you all." No response. Seven years ago, "Hi there, I see that you guys are creating a digital entertainment show and you’re looking for PAs for that position. I would love to be a production assistant." I heard nothing back, but when I tell you, it’s all about timing.
'What can I do in the meantime to get me to E! News to attract them? How can the morning position in Lansing, Michigan, get me to where I want to be?' I immediately started thinking, 'Alright, I’m going to cover car accidents. I’m going to cover unfortunate vigils and homicides. But I’m also going to cover fun and lighter topics to build those chops for the news because I know I’m going to be there one day.' So I was doing live shots from a hot-air balloon to hosting shows with the Harlem Globetrotters.
So I continue to manifest E! News more and more and more. I said, "I am ready." I got to Atlanta, my hometown, and they created a position for me on the morning show as an entertainment anchor. It was the first time the station had that type of position and entertainment ever, but I knew I had to bring something to the table. I knew I was at a point where I’m now in a top 10 market in my hometown as their first-ever entertainment anchor. What can I do, because we talked about creating where you are, right? Don’t wait until Hollywood calls you. Create in the meantime.
I created my very own entertainment franchise called The A-Scene, AKA the Atlanta scene, and literally, the interviews started coming. I started getting calls like, "Hey Francesca, we’re going to be at the Waldorf Astoria. Would you like to interview Oprah Winfrey? Would you like to interview Ryan Reynolds?" The respect and credibility started building. My favorite part was educating my audience, so despite whether Hollywood ever called, I was now educating and creating a community of Hollywood or entertainment lovers right in my hometown. Four Emmys later and a bunch of eyeballs later, God is so good.
"The respect and credibility started building. My favorite part was educating my audience, so despite whether Hollywood ever called, I was now educating and creating a community of Hollywood or entertainment lovers right in my hometown. Four Emmys later and a bunch of eyeballs later, God is so good."
It was all about timing. I created a vision board right when I started in Atlanta. I printed off two photos of the [E! News] hosts at the time and then, on that third [spot] I put my face. It didn’t mean that I was going to be a third host, but it meant that I was going to be a part of the news family. And every other day I woke up, and I looked at that vision board, I would see myself and I’d be like, 'You got next. You got next. You got next.’ And right above the words E! News, it said, ‘Remain your authentic self,’ words by Oprah Winfrey and Viola Davis. Remain your authentic self and you will get to where you want to be, where you belong.
Four years [and] many jobs later, and this is where we are. I wasn’t supposed to be at E! News 11 or 12 years ago when I emailed to be an intern. I wasn’t supposed to be at E! News as a PA seven years ago. I wasn’t supposed to be at E! News four years ago when I put a gift on one of the executive’s desks after visiting LA and having a moment in the cafe.
That’s just happenstance. That was just me being prepared for the moment. This was all about timing. It’s all about timing. I appreciate God hindering me and creating those roadblocks and saying not yet because now I have not one doubt of what I’m able to do with this company. I’m so excited because this is the gold standard in entertainment and to be a part of it is a blessing, but it’s a blessing I earned. I’m proud of not letting it go. I don’t take it for granted at all.
"Every other day I woke up, and I looked at that vision board, I would see myself and I’d be like, 'You got next. You got next. You got next.’ And right above the words E! News, it said, ‘Remain your authentic self.’ Remain your authentic self and you will get to where you want to be, where you belong. Four years [and] many jobs later, and this is where we are. This was all about timing. It’s all about timing."
Oh, and you shouldn't because it's so inspirational. I don't even have the words. It's so powerful seeing a Black woman be in this space. What do you love most about being a Black woman?
The power that we have when we walk into a room, people are immediately intrigued by us. People are immediately intrigued by what’s in our minds. Of course, naturally, each Black woman that walks anywhere, we are goddesses. We are gorgeous women. But aside from that, what I think is most beautiful about us are the different levels of thinking and what we possess, and the creative juices that each one of us has. Right now, in my current realm, some Black women are hairstylists, some Black women are makeup artists. Nina Parker, who I adore, is a Black woman who has taken me under her wing. And not just a Black woman who was hosting a TV show, but she is a woman who has now created her own Nina Parker empire.
To just be on the sidelines and seeing that happening, from what’s going on with her clothing line at Macy’s to what she has going on thereafter. I am now in the space of so much greatness, so many entrepreneurs walking by me every single day. We are so varied and so diverse and we’re able to do everything, and if we stick together, we can take over everything together. Black women are just phenomenal creatures, and it’s this little bit of sass about us, too.
It’s the magic for me. It’s the magic. It’s the flavor, and we can deliver it in such a classy, professional, sophisticated way. We are magical chameleons.
That's beautiful. So, as you're entering this new level, how have you learned to balance self-care with your career?
That’s an excellent question because at 31 I’m not sure that I have completely balanced it just yet. Talking about my career, this is one of the insecurities I have. I’m not the best at caring for myself and putting myself first. I’ll give you a prime example. And I said this to one of my girlfriends last month, a realization and I knew it, but I never really said it out loud. I waited and I want anyone who’s watching this or listening to this or hearing this. I don’t want them to make this mistake, and this is probably one of my biggest regrets, but something I appreciate about myself too.
I intentionally put off a lot in life, just to wait to be in a city that I felt was going to be my forever home. I put a lot off. I’ll start getting my nails done when I get to Cali. I’ll start getting my hair done frequently when I get to Cali. I’ll start dating when I get to Cali. I’ll start going to therapy when I get to Cali. I always put off taking care of myself mentally, physically. I waited until I got the dream job, but what if that never even happened? I never want another woman to make the mistake of putting off life and putting off love—because that’s a part of self-care as well, opening up to the world and allowing someone to love you—which is what I have not done at all for decades.
And allowing you to love yourself, of course, that’s the self-care I can bring to myself. I love myself dearly but as far as balance, I can do a lot better with that. I urge anyone who can take anything from this to put yourself first now because you don’t know if tomorrow’s promised or if next year is promised. You don’t know when that dream job is coming. You don’t know if your dream city is coming. Take care of yourself and protect yourself now.
I’m at a point, Joce, where I am now fortunate enough to take a step back. Let me explore my new city, let me go on a hike, let me go get my nails done, let me see what Black therapists are around this area so I can go to one weekly, because that is, thank goodness, my coworkers talk about that like it is so normal. Therapy is normal and it should be more normalized, so I’m still learning how to balance.
"I never want another woman to make the mistake of putting off life and putting off love—because that’s a part of self-care as well, opening up to the world and allowing someone to love you—which is what I have not done at all for decades. I urge anyone who can take anything from this to put yourself first now because you don’t know if tomorrow’s promised or if next year is promised. Take care of yourself and protect yourself now."
Absolutely. I watched the interview with Gabrielle Union, and she was talking about how the word 'balance' has somewhat of a negative connotation. Sometimes we might not achieve balance, and that's OK. What is something you wish 21-year-old Francesca knew that you know now?
I wish I dated. But do I want to say that?
I feel like that's honest, especially with who you're becoming. That's a very honest answer. You can have another answer, but I hear you when you say that.
Yeah I am. It’s OK to be vulnerable in that state and also be a boss at climbing toward your amazing professional life. For me, it was, 'You’re not about to get in my way.' I see all these girls getting pregnant or she’s upset about this relationship or she’s crying over here, and I did not want that to be me.
But you know what, 21-year-old Fran, she could have learned and begun trying to balance, instead of trying to learn the balance at 31. Ten years ago, I would have challenged her to be open to living life in that way. I lived life academically and professionally. I could have lived a little more and not tried to rush. We always put this limit. I want to get here before the age of 26. I want to have children by the age of 23.
I want us to live in the moment. I would have challenged myself to live in the moment and be in the moment and it’s OK. Let yourself be vulnerable in that way. I protected myself and kept my guard up for quite some time.
Right! I'm wondering if that was modeled for you to know balance was possible, because for me, it wasn't modeled. I always thought you had to pick one: devote yourself to this one thing, and that's it.
It’s interesting, you know, the thing I saw in my household. My parents have been together now for 40 years and have been married for 36 years. I saw my mother as a schoolteacher and my dad as the breadwinner of the home. My mom created an amazing outlook for us on balance. They have an amazing marriage, and I don’t know that my generation is going to measure up to that, so I avoided that at all costs.
And unfortunately, with social media nowadays, I look at social media, and even as a woman at 31, I’m like, 'Oh my gosh, there’s just no hope.' Where are the professional men out there who know how to treat a woman who isn’t thinking like a certain popular influencer, who just truly values a woman and also wants to be valued? I have the fear of never finding the love of my life like my parents. I still have that fear, but I am being more open. Social media has tainted our generation in our generation’s outlook on love—what love is.
And I'm wondering, if you applied the same pressure manifesting a man the way you manifested your dream job, how that would have turned out.
It’s funny because while I was interviewing Ciara I asked, "So you finally released this prayer!" She said, "Y’all have been begging for it. I just found it was the right time." For me, it’s all about timing. Maybe young Francesca was not ready. I wasn’t ready to dive into this amazing love. Maybe she would have been too immature. Maybe she would have not been willing to bend like she should because a relationship is about ebbs and flows. Right now, I realized that his time is just as valuable as mine, and my love and his love, it needs to equal out.
I agree. You keep talking about divine timing. I'm in therapy and that's something I'm learning. I'm just thankful that you keep dropping these gems. What's next for you?
You know this week and next week I’m about to create that vision board. I do one every single year. I encourage everyone to not only write their vision but to go get those magazines, glue, tape, scissors, and a poster board. And even go to Google, search the item—the picture that you see for yourself—and you put that baby smack dab in the middle of your vision board. I urge everyone going into this new year, even with all the uncertainty, things are still possible. We can continue to live out our biggest, wildest dreams.
Some folks had the best two years, ever in the past two years, with this pandemic. Some people have tapped into things that they didn’t even realize they would have time to do, or they would have the mental capacity to create, and so I just want this to be a challenge to all of our xoNecole readers. There’s a reason you dream and you wake up and you go and you turn to the side, or you go to call your girlfriend and go, 'Can you believe that dream?' There’s a reason she may not fully understand what you’re talking about. Because God only gave you that dream.
It only showed up in your heart, it only showed up in your mind. I want people to seriously take those thoughts, those creative juices that happen now and then, write them down and take them seriously because we’re one action away from living our wildest dreams and creating financial lifestyles that we can only imagine. You’re one dream away from a billion-dollar contract with a company that goes, 'Wow, you’re the only person in the world that thought of that.'
I challenge us to just tap into ourselves more and to deliver on these dreams.
To learn more about Francesca, follow her on Instagram. You can also catch Francesca on E! News’ Daily Pop weekdays at 11 am ET on E!
Featured image courtesy of Francesca Amiker
Joce Blake is a womanist who loves fashion, Beyonce and Hot Cheetos. The sophistiratchet enthusiast is based in Brooklyn, NY but has southern belle roots as she was born and raised in Memphis, TN. Keep up with her on Instagram @joce_blake and on Twitter @SaraJessicaBee.
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.
The couple met years ago at their alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, when they were still working to create the life they have now, and if you had told them then that they’d eventually tie the knot, the pair probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Today, they’re new parents, flourishing in their careers, and each others’ “teammates.” When desiring love, Dalen recommends not looking to other couples for advice. And Stacey advises staying true to what you want. “Don’t put age or limitations on love and children. If God could do it for me, why can’t he do it for you?”
Here's How We Met.
How did you meet?
Dalen: We met in 2005 when she was advising the Greek sororities and fraternities in college. She was old as hell in college, and I was a young buck (laughs). Everybody had a crush on her, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, in 2007, we were in the same grad school class, but she still wasn’t trying to see me then either. I had to catch her five years ago; I was very patient.
Stacey: Yeah, everybody in our grad school class called him Young, Fresh to Death because he was always dressed in B-school (what CAU affectionately refers to as business major classes), and we’d just wear sweatpants (laughs).
So, I know Dalen was always attracted to you. But what about you? Did your attraction to him develop over time?
Stacey: So 2006-2008 – all the years went by. I don’t think we were really thinking about each other at all back then. Years later, I had an event in Dallas, and I booked him to be a speaker. Then, a few years ago, Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: "If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you." But I still thought he was too young at the time, and he started pulling receipts. Taraji P. Henson was dating someone young at the time, Gabrielle Union–
Dalen: First of all, I didn’t do that. You did that.
Stacey: Okay, I did. I thought he was a cutie pie, but that age thing was on my mind!
"Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: 'If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you.'"
Talk to me about the first date. How did he change your mind?
Stacey: Our first date was at Tin Lizzy's in Atlanta. During that time, he was living in Dallas, so it was long-distance. But he came into town, and we just had a good time. We talked a lot, which we still do. It wasn’t anything fantastic.
Dalen: Don’t downplay our first date.
Then, walk me through your courtship. How did you get to the next level? What was that conversation like?
Stacey: I think he knew at age 43 or 44 I wasn’t playing around. But also, I think it just naturally progressed.
Dalen: Yeah, it just happened naturally. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think initially either one of us thought it would be as serious as it was. She thought I was too young and I wasn’t ready for marriage, kids, and all that. I think we both thought we were just hanging out. But after spending so much time together, a lot of stuff started happening. Like, she had to have surgery early on. It wasn’t just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That’s why we still don’t have an anniversary date because we never really asked.
"It wasn't just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That's why we still don't have an anniversary date because we never really asked."
What made you want to commit to each other?
Dalen: The moment I knew Stacey was for me was from a phone call. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I can be really blunt sometimes. But we were talking, and I said, ‘I don’t really feel like talking anymore.’ And she was just like, okay, and hung up. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and she understood that. It sounds bad, but that’s how I knew she just got me. I felt like she could get my random awkward moments, and she does to this day.
Stacey: For me, I liked him as a person. Even when times get rough and tough, I could still like him as a human. He is my best friend. We have time. We laugh until we cry, and it’s just always like that. Even when we get pissed at each other, something happens, and we fix it. Also, how he treats his mother. That’s a momma’s boy, but I’m a daddy’s girl – so I get it. I know how I want to be treated, and I see how he is with her and that’s beautiful.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through loving your partner in this relationship?
Dalen: I grew up an only child and she grew up with siblings. So, when you have someone who is used to doing things by themselves, there is definitely a learning curve when you get into a serious relationship. It’s funny now, but it was definitely a process.
Stacey: I agree – definitely the only child thing. There’s times I look at him like, did you ever live with anyone else? That comes from being momma's baby, too. I have to say, my “mother-in-love” spoiled him. But also with Axel (their daughter), that brings another level of patience.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome together?
Dalen: We’ve gone through a lot within the years we’ve been together. We suffered two miscarriages – I’d say that’s the biggest.
Stacey: Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me. I was wondering if I can’t carry [a child] what that looks like for us. We had very real conversations pretty early in our relationship.
"Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me."
What do you fight the most about?
Dalen: Nagging. Stacey nags; she’s a complainer. She’s that momma that will look in a room and just hunt for something to complain about. Like, I’m worried for Axel when she's in high school.
Stacey: It’s because I like things to be in place. He leaves stuff all over the place. I can tell where he’s been in the house because something is left around. So he says I’m nagging – but it’s like, just get your stuff.
What are your love languages?
Dalen: Stacey is gifts all day.
Dalen: We’ve talked about this. xoNecole is about to cause problems in our home (laughs).
Stacey: Obviously I love you. *thinks again* It’s words of affirmation.
Dalen: That’s it.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Dalen: I’ve always respected her business-mindedness. That may sound superficial, but it’s not because I’ve never been with someone who thinks like me. It’s one of my most treasured things about her. I remember one day, I was just running through ideas with her, and each time Stacey had a suggestion on how I could make it better. It’s just very comforting. She takes whatever I’m doing and elevates it – including me.
Stacey: I love Dalen’s hustle and creativity. He’s been on multiple shows, and he continues to create, produce, and reinvent himself and the product he’s putting out. I love that we can create together and bounce things off each other. Even though we may be in different arenas, there’s nothing he can’t offer me great advice about. I love that drive.
Finally, how did you know it was love?
Dalen: Well – she said it – first. (laughs)
Stacey: And he looked at me and smiled! He didn’t say it back. We were on a trip, out of the country.
Dalen: We were arguing when she said it, and she just threw it out.
Stacey: But we continue to do that. We’ve spent holidays and everything outside of the country.
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Porsha Williams And Simon Guobadia’s Marriage Has Ended: Here’s A Look Into Their Relationship Timeline
Porsha Williams and Simon Guobadia have called it quits.
After a 15-month-long marriage commenced with two elaborate wedding ceremonies, PEOPLEexclusively reports that the former Real Housewives of Atlanta star has filed for divorce from the Nigerian businessman on Thursday.
With online rumors around Guobadia's citizenship status coinciding with the announcement of their separation, a source informed PEOPLE that the divorce is "unrelated to recent allegations involving Simon's past" and is an “ongoing matter.”
In November 2022, the ex-lovebirds tied the knot in Atlanta during a show-stopping, 350-guest Nigerian traditional native law, with a traditional American wedding to follow.
Ahead of their wedding, Williams told PEOPLEexclusively, “I am ridiculously excited. I am just so ready. I'm not even nervous. I know I'm marrying the love of my life, and it's going to solidify our relationship and our family bond. I'm calm and excited."
Although their relationship has come to a sudden conclusion, their whirlwind romance was one to watch; or in this case, look back on. Here’s a breakdown of the moments that made Williams and Guobadia’s relationship one to remember.
2020 - Porsha and Simon's First Encounter
Porsha Williams and Simon Guobadia first crossed paths in 2020 on the set of Season 13 of Real Housewives of Atlanta. Guobadia was then married to friend of the show, Falynn Pina.
May 2021 - Their Surprise Engagement
In May 2021, Porsha Williams surprised fans by announcing her engagement to Simon Guobadia shortly after he reportedly declared his divorce from Falynn Pina. Williams shared on Instagram that their relationship started a month earlier, and Guobadia had initiated divorce proceedings in January 2021, which had been resolved.
Williams took to Instagram to dispel rumors around the overlap in Guobadia’s prior relationship.
“Our relationship began a month ago—yes we are crazy in love,” she wrote in the caption. “I know it’s fast but we are living life each day to its fullest. I choose happiness every morning and every night. Tuning out all negative energy and only focused on positive wishes.”
November 2021 - Porsha Clears Up Rumors Around Their Relationship Timeline
On an episode of Watch What Happens Live, Andy Cohen looked to “nail down some dates” in connection to alleged overlaps with Porsha, Simon, and his ex-wife. She shared that she reached out to Guobadia to express her sympathy for his divorce, having experienced the weight of divorce herself.
“I actually told him, ‘I’m sorry for your divorce,’ and all of that because I know what that feels like,” Williams shared. “I know what it feels like to go through betrayal and hurt.”
She continued, "A little birdie had told me that [Falynn] was pregnant, so I knew what he was about to go through." Porsha noted that his ex-wife’s pregnancy announcement prompted her to offer support to Simon, which opened a door for their connection to deepen and eventually fall in love.
November 2022 - Williams and Guobadia Tie the Knot
The couple spared no expense for their not one, but two wedding ceremonies. On Nov. 26 and Nov. 27, the two celebrated their love in front of 350 wedding guests at the Four Seasons Hotel in Atlanta, GA. The first ceremony celebrated Guobadia's Edo culture, while the following day featured a star-studded American wedding. Williams told PEOPLE that the double-wedding was a "true fashion extravaganza," as a nod to her numerous outfit changes.
November 2023 - A Diamond-Studded Declaration
To celebrate their one-year anniversary, the couple exchanged extravagant dazzling diamond rings — a stunning emerald cut for her and a stylish band for him.
February 2024 - The Two File for Divorce
Williams filed for divorce from Guobadia on Thursday, Feb. 22 2024, after nearly a half of marriage. While the cause of their divorce is still unknown, sources close to Williams confirmed that the divorce is an “ongoing matter.”
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Featured image by Paras Griffin/Getty Images